Making the strategic choice to operate OEMs with complete systems and keeping production in their own country, gave DM Wheel Systems a profit.
With a growth of 70% in the past four years, the step towards automation in the field of welding could not be avoided. "We had already reached the turning point for a long time, but it would cost another year before the welding robot would be here. It takes time to delve into the matter, do tests and train people. Because we had no experience with welding robots, the process took us a year, but the next steps we will take, will be much faster, " Frank van Schaaijk says, who runs the company with his brother Christian van Schaaijk.
DM Wheel Systems in the Dutch town Boxtel, designs and produces transport wheels, swivel casters and special wheels for logistics systems, roller coasters, AGVs and mail-order systems. After a merger ten years ago, the company opted to modernize logistics and machinery or to move production to a low-wage region. Frank van Schaaijk: "For that reason, everyone started producing in China at that time. By continuing to produce as one of few in our own country, we were able to serve the market much faster with short delivery times. That turned out to be a good choice afterwards. In addition, we realized that we would be less vulnerable if we could also supply complete systems instead of standard wheels. That meant that we also had to be able to run, do injection moulding, laser cutting and welding. From 2013, we have given our production and logistics a considerable boost with investments and we have grown to 27 employees.
DM Wheel Systems is now in possession of a modern warehouse, high-tech turning machines, a laser cutting machine and a Valk Welding arc welding robot system. Frank van Schaaijk: "In the beginning, we only welded large series on the welding robot, but now that we have more experience with the system and we can program a new product more quickly, more and more products are going to be welded on the robot. Within the product families, we are dealing with a large variation in product dimensions and strongly varying batch sizes. This requires a high degree of flexibility in automation."
Welding robot cell complete with welding fume evacuation
The welding robot system consists of a Panasonic TAWERS TM-1400WG3 welding robot with two rotating product tables next to each other. The cell is completely closed and only secured at the front with fast doors. "The released welding fumes are extracted and filtered. As soon as the suction power of the drain decreases, the filters will automatically be cleaned. The deposited smoke particels on the filters is then collected and discharged as metal waste. This is done, so there will be no harmful welding smoke in the workspace and the outside air, " Frank van Schaaijk explains.
Significant time savings
The wheel specialist also supplies special wheel systems for the attraction market. "Then you have to deal with high speeds and high payloads. In that case, the quality of the welding must always be of consistently high quality. We can now also guarantee this with the welding robot. Moreover, we achieve a considerable gain in time when we weld the 'frame' of such large wheels with the robot. The welding robot is now finished after 7 minutes, while it would normally cost the manual welder around 45 minutes. All in all, the Valk Welding welding robot system turns out to be the state-of-the-art industrial automation solution in the field of welding. And the robot installation ensures seamless integration into our production process. Now that we work with it, we cannot live without it. We should have started earlier."
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